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Wednesday, 15 April 1931


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - Order! The honorable senator will have an opportunity to debate the subject later.


Senator BARNES - If these fiduciary notes were put into circulation, one of them would buy just as much bread as would a Commonwealth banknote. But it does not follow, if the measure is carried, that one additional note would be printed. It is merely an indication to the Commonwealth Bank Board that this Parliament stands behind it. The members of that board are sane men, well trained for their task. They know the assets that Australia possesses, but they seek to be reassured by this Parliament in the present crisis. The passing of a bill such as this would be an indication that the Federal Government is prepared to accept its share of the responsibility by authorizing a fiduciary issue. No new notes would be printed until the Commonwealth Bank deemed that to be necessary.

I do not ask honorable senators to act precipitately. I ask for nothing more than the people of Australia are entitled to receive. Our men and women are wandering around the country eager to work, but unable to find anything to do. They do not want charity; they want the opportunity to make a return for what they receive. This measure opens the door to a new era. It makes possible the construction of public utilities, of railways, roads, and bridges. Those are the things in which many overseas investors have hitherto put their money. They represent a good investment.

This Government has inaugurated a tariff which, if continued, will do much to solve the problems of Australia. It has encouraged overseas investors to expand present industries, and to establish new ones in Australia. It would bring about even greater industrial activity were it not for the uncertainty that for the moment prevails. Overseas investors are apprehensive lest a reactionary party should gain possession of the Treasury bench, and undo the good work that has been done by this Government. So for the moment their purse strings are tightened. If they were given a guarantee that the present Commonwealth Government would remain for five or ten years in office, so that the existing tariff would continue', the strings of the moneybags would quickly be loosened. I do not blame those business men for being canny. I appeal to honorable senators to assist to restore their confidence, and to give favorable consideration to this bill.

It is well-known that I would not dream of making a claim that I thought I could not substantiate. I have given this measure a great deal of thought, and personally, I believe that its passage will mean a lot to the people of Australia. It grieves me to the heart to see so many of our workers idle. I know that it does not leave honorable senators unmoved. I remember the bank smash of 1893. I was then a young man, and for two years I was compelled to tramp in search of work, which was unobtainable. Perhaps it is because of that experience that my heart is opened a little more generously towards our unfortunate unemployed during the present crisis.

I know that Australia is sound; that its people are honorable. I know that they will meet their obligations, although some of them may have been entered into foolishly. I ask for no concessions, but merely that our people be given a fighting chance to make good their pledges. How can a hard fight be won with a starving army? That is what we are attempting to do in Australia. With some 250,000 men and women out of work, we are calling on the nation to put up a strenuous fight, meet its obligations, and balance its budget. That grand old campaigner, Napoleon, said that "An army marches on its stomach." It makes our task extremely difficult if we face it with a hungry army of unemployed. I know that Australians are a brave race, and that in such times as these they will accept conditions that they would not dream of accepting under normal circumstances. I appeal to honorable senators opposite to assist the Government to place our citizens in satisfactory circumstances, and not to leave them like Lazarus, grovelling at the foot of the rich man's table, seeking a crumb. Give them a fighting chance to make good, and perform the work of the country. I know no better means of achieving that object than that proposed by the Government.


Senator FOLL (QUEENSLAND) - All those men were not out of work until the Scullin Government came into office.


Senator BARNES - It has had a kind of snowball effect-







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